On this page you can find the call for papers and the timeline for the submission, review and publication process in relation to the special issue ‘Co-design and the Public realm’. This special issue will be published in “CoDesign. International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts“.
We invite you to contribute to this call by submitting a paper. Contributions to the discussion on the themes addressed in the call can also be submitted on the TRADERStalk platform. For any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Liesbeth Huybrechts, University of Hasselt, Belgium

Jon Geib, Chalmers University of Technology

Hilde Heynen, KU Leuven, Belgium

Henric Benesch, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Jessica Schoffelen, LUCA School of Arts, Belgium


Co-design’s engagement with the public realm is rooted in an activist tradition aspiring to increase democratic participation of diverse societal groups in design activities related to public space, services, systems or policy. This is partly due to its historical relationship with the tradition of Scandinavian Participatory Design (PD) that developed in the 1970s and shared concerns and values with labour unions in emancipating workers at the workplace (Bannon & Ehn, 2012, p. 39; Lenskjold, Olander, Halse, 2015). However, since the rise of the Post-Fordist era, the engagement of co-design with the public realm has changed: it has been influenced by increasing globalisation, flexibility, rapid technological developments, a highly diverse and competitive market and accordingly changing social conditions (Boudry et al, 2003, 43). Many aspects that were traditionally part of the public domain – such as mobility or communication infrastructure – shifted to the private domain, resulting in progressively more complex relations with governance and regulation (Graham & Marvin, 1994; Davis, 1990; Harvey 1994, Christopherson 1994). In short, in a Post-Fordist context, designing takes place across previously delineated contrasting pillars (or economic sectors, socio-political families, and discourses), such as public/private, work/leisure, local/global, the boundaries between which become increasingly blurred.

In Design for The Real World (1971), Papanek saw engaging with activism and the market as antithetical. Post-fordism has eradicated prior distinctions, whereby today co-design is being simultaneously applied to improving labour relations, consumption and political activism, by bringing a wide range of actors together to identify and develop that which is to come. In this context, it is not unusual that participation and co-design act as a conduit for market forces and other forms of private interest. This has again – but in different ways than in the 1970s – intensified the discourse in co-design on the political and public sphere. This prompts some questions that we would like to address in the framework of this special issue.

  • What are the consequences, tensions and challenges of co-design engaging with the public realm when that realm is increasingly entangled with private forces?
  • What concepts, frameworks, tools, methods are used and what values are pursued to answer these challenges?
  • In an era of growing social, ecological and economic injustice, is the answer found in the mobilisation of all possible forces, including design, in order to challenge the marketisation of the political?
  • Or, on the contrary, is the answer to pull back and rethink co-design in this era of blurred boundaries?
  • Additionally, are divisions between public and private productive; or are there other alternatives?

We invite authors to submit research papers in relation to one or more of the above questions. Fieldwork can be used to enrich the discussion on the above questions and to allow us to revisit co-design addressing the public realm in a Post-Fordist era.



March 2016: Launch of the call
30th of September 2016: Submission of full papers
30th of December 2016: Post-review notification of decisions
30th of March 2017: Deadline for submission of revised papers
30th of May: Final selected papers to production
30th of September 2017: Publication of the Special Issue



Bannon, L. J. & Ehn, P. (2012). Design: Design Matters in Participatory Design. In Simonsen, J. and Robertsen T. (eds.) Routledge International Handbook of Participatory Design. New York, NY.: Routledge, pp 37-63.

Boudry, L. Cabus, P. Coryn, E., De Rynck, F., Kesteloot, C., Loeckx, A. (2003). De Eeuw van de Stad. Over stadsrepublieken en rastersteden. Brussel: Project Stedenbeleid, Administratie Binnenlandse aangelegenheden.

Christopherson, S. (1994) The Fortress City: Privatized Spaces, Consumer Citizenship. In Amin, A. (Ed.). (2011). Post-Fordism: a reader. John Wiley & Sons.

Davis, M. (1990). City of quartz. Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. London: Vintage.

Graham, S. & Marvin, S. (1994). More than Ducts and Wires: Post-Fordism, cities and utility networks.
In Healey, P. Et al (eds), (1994) Managing Cities: The New Urban Context, London- John Wiley

Lenskjold, T.U., Olander, S. Halse, J (2015). Minor Design Activism: Prompting Change from Within. Design Issues 31 (4), pp. 66-77.

Harvey, D. (1994) Flexible Accumulation through Urbanization: Reflections on ‘Post-modernism’ in the American City. In Amin, A. (Ed.). (2011). Post-Fordism: a reader. John Wiley & Sons.

Papanek, Victor (1971). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. New York, Pantheon Books.



We invite full manuscripts by 30th of September 2016, which will be subjected to the normal review procedure of the journal. Papers submitted in response to this call are expected to address the questions it raises. The guest editors will reject papers judged to be outside the scope of the call without further review.

Manuscripts should be prepared according to guidelines which can be found on the journal website (www.tandf.co.uk/journals/ncdn – link “Instructions for Authors”). All submissions should be made online at the CoDesign Manuscript Central site at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ncdn. Authors submitting to CoDesign for the first time will need to create an account. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the same website.

All published articles will undergo rigorous peer review, based on the guest editors’ initial screening and anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees.

(Potential) authors should contact liesbeth.huybrechts@uhasselt.be with any questions about this special issue.

Find this call at: http://explore.tandfonline.com/cfp/est/co-design-public-realm-call